Old Fogey’s Diary, Day One | HumorOutcasts

Old Fogey’s Diary, Day One

May 23, 2018
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I am constantly explaining how things work to my elderly father. On a recent trip to visit my son, his grandson, in an east coast city, Dad couldn’t grasp the instant responses from Uber. I pushed a button and a sedan drove up in front of our hotel and deposited us wherever we wanted to go. Magic with tip included.

When Dad’s cell phone broke last week he took it to three stores for repair, oblivious of provider, any warranty, or even resetting the phone. Dad is on my brother’s plan and didn’t understand that a cell phone differs from the land line. Turns out it was the charger. And honestly, there are many days when I long for the simplicity I knew growing up when we had a black and white dial phone on the wall. Anyone in our small town could be reached by dialing four numbers. Our number was 4790.

Although I’m two-and-a-half decades younger than Dad, I am increasingly struggling with today’s quickly-changing technology as well as infinite choices in every aspect of life. Leaving the pace of a corporate job is like stepping off one of those moving sidewalks in the airport. The sidewalk keeps moving, and the pace accelerates the longer you are on the side.

Last night we went out for Mexican food. I wanted iced tea with my dinner. How simple is that? Impossible. You can’t just order an iced tea. You must choose between raspberry tea, today’s special mango tea, blackberry, pomegranite, or strawberry tea, with or without caffeine. What happened to the good old days when you were offered iced tea, sweet or not?  I want to open a window and scream like the man in “Network,” “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

The feeling of being irrelevant in a world moving much too fast creeps up, like the English Ivy climbing nearly  to the gutters of my house. I write these words on a tablet that has gone through three upgrades just since I started the story. And don’t get me started on my phone. Somewhere in this house is a draw full of chargers for the same brand phone, different with each improved model that conveniently breaks on schedule in time for the new model. Do you hear that ticking clock?  It’s the obsolescence of my year-old phone.

I am increasingly baffled by the world that tries to outsmart me. Think about Windows 10. In order to use a new printer, I had to unwillingly upgrade to Windows 10, right about the time I got over Windows 7 and learned how to use 8.  And dang, I still miss XP.  After upgrading, I learned that this particular printer had issues with Windows 10.

The printer came with a CD with supposedly upgraded software. Yeah, right. You know we’re all on our own here, and I had to figure out what was causing the problem. Naturally, I used the Socratic method on myself, and eventually worked the problem. Turned out I had too many printer drivers, not the wrong one. That’s three hours I’ll never get back.

Unless you are or birthed a software engineer, there’s no one you can call on the fly. Solving my own software and hardware issues isn’t a new activity for me. Since the turn-of-the-century when I had access to computer people who could help, I’ve been stuck with my own ability or Geek Squad.  And who wants to pack up the computer and stand in a line at a Big Box store?  In my last two jobs, there was an offsite company in Lapland that was open two hours a day. You called and left a message and maybe, just maybe, they could get back to you before the next solstice.

I think we all went to hell when cable TV emerged. Three, maybe four, broadcast channels wasn’t enough and then we had 900 channels. And all we get are reboots of old situation comedies? Give me a break. If I had not watched the BBC’s new “Little Women,” I might be locked up in our local fun house.

When I’m 87, I expect my son will be leading me around and I’ll wonder at the computer box embedded in his forehead. The screen will read my thoughts and a driveless Uber will show up to take us wherever we want to go.

Amy Abbott

Abbott is syndicated on Senior Wire News Service and writes for newspapers and magazines. She's the author of multiple books, and is currently featured in "Laugh Out Loud," the first anthology of the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop.

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3 Responses to Old Fogey’s Diary, Day One

  1. May 24, 2018 at 8:42 am

    I don’t know why I focused in on the tea, but…I too have been frustrated by the Ice Tea issues. I ask “unsweetened,” and they say “we have green.” Is that an answer? NO. LOL

  2. Bill Spencer
    May 24, 2018 at 7:24 am

    You sound very tech-knowledgey.

  3. May 24, 2018 at 3:35 am

    I am the only 72-year-old that I know who loves computers, communicates via email, Facebook, and phone texting, has fun with an iPhone and thinks Uber is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    My family always thought I was weird.



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